Mud bricks fired as part of the sarooj manufacturing process, Nakhal, Oman
For centuries, sarooj was an essential building material in the oasis communities of the UAE and Oman. In the oases that the Al Ain chapter visits, we often find copper smelting rings that have been re-used for the production of sarooj. At Nuway, there is a collection of sarooj manufacturing pits.
However, the exact process of making sarooj was unclear, though it is described in various publications and, briefly, on a website produced by the Oman government.
The Oman website mentioned a sarooj manufacturing site in Nakhal, Oman. The photographs below were taken in the summer of 2007 during a visit to the site.
The current manager has been in charge of sarooj manufacturing for more than 50 years. He patiently demonstrated the various stages and explained that sarooj made in Nakhal is shipped around the Arabian Gulf where it is used in restoration projects. Some of the sarooj on the site was more than 25 years old and still had the characteristics of portland cement.
Each oasis needed a quantity of sarooj to build falaj systems. An
archaeologist from Muscat explained that oasis communities often used old
copper smelting 'rings' as sarooj firing sites, explaining -- as is the case at
Khutwah, for example -- why the stones are all discolored. Sarooj is not used
for wall plaster but, in addition to aflaj, it may have been used for pottery.